How does religious intolerance impact us socially and globally? Consider statistics and events.

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The negative effects of religious intolerance may be experienced at every level of society all around the world. From the impact of hate speech on a child’s self-esteem all the way up through armed, international conflicts, religion may be misused to justify persecution and violence. Prominent examples from recent years include deaths resulting from mass shootings in houses of worship, notably the 2018 anti-Semitic attacks at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the United States and the 2019 anti-Muslim attacks at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The widespread problem of religion being misused in relation to violence is being addressed through the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion and Belief, first observed on August 22, 2019. António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) gave a public address on this day, noting the alarming frequency with which people “falsely and maliciously invoke religion to build misconceptions, fuel division and spread fear and hatred.”

Another area of religious intolerance that the UN has addressed is attacks on human rights and civil rights. UN experts have called for an end to the use of religion in justifying violence or discrimination against females or LGBT+ people. Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, expressed these concerns in a 2020 report.

Among the sources that can provide accurate assessments, including the use of quantitative data, are reports and surveys that the Pew Research Center (https://www.pewforum.org/data/) conducts as part of its Religion and Public Life program. In 2019, for example, a Pew survey found that eighty-two percent of Americans believe there is anti-Muslim discrimination and sixty-four percent identify anti-Jewish discrimination in the United States.

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